Chapter Eight THE ARTISTIC LIFE
I. THE ARTIST
I THINK of all phases of the Chinese civilization, Chinese art alone will make any lasting contribution to the culture of the world. This point, I think, will not be seriously contested. Chinese science, in any case, does not make any pretensions, although the Chinese empirical medicine provides a rich field for medical research and discoveries. Chinese philosophy will never make any lasting impression on the West, because Chinese philosophy, with its moderation, restraint and pacifism, which are all physically conditioned by the decrease of bodily energy, can never suit the Western temperament, with its aggressive exuberance and vitality.
For the same reason, the Chinese social organization will never fit the West. Confucianism is too matter of fact, Taoism too nonchalant, and Buddhism too negative to suit the Western positive outlook on life. No people that are daily sending men to explore the North Pole or conquer the air or break speed records can become good Buddhists. I have seen a few examples of European Buddhist monks, who talk altogether too loudly and too vehemently to conceal the tumultuous passions in their souls. In particular, I have seen one who, in his energetic denunciation of the West, is willing to call down fire and brimstone from heaven to bum up all Europe. When Europeans put on Buddhist gowns and try to look calm and passive, they merely look ridiculous.
Moreover, it would be unfair to judge the Chinese as a nation without an understanding of their art. There are certain hidden innermost recesses of the Chinese soul that can be known only through its reflection in Chinese art, for, like Cyrano de Bergerac, the extreme sensitiveness and fine feeling of the